Democrats swept to decisive victories in several Philadelphia “collar counties” on Election Day — a worrisome development for national Republicans who see the suburbs as key to winning in 2020.
But Democrats got a few wake up calls, too. In fact, the biggest losers in suburban races appear to have been establishment politicians as populism continues to impact races nationwide.
Locally, Democrats will hold all five seats on the Delaware County Council, a Republican stronghold since the Civil War, and also assumed a majority on the legislative body in Chester County. In Bucks County, Democrats captured the Board of Commissioners for the first time since 1983.
And in Philadelphia, a third-party insurgent candidate weakened an already marginalized GOP by securing one of the at-large City Council seats reserved for minority parties — a seat Republicans have held for decades.
On the periphery of Philadelphia, several establishment Democrats lost to far-left liberal candidates. But it was a clear win for Democrats and Republicans who point to lackluster candidates or political headwinds and are whistling past the graveyard.
The suburbs are changing. They are getting younger, browner, and more educated. All of those constituencies have been favoring Democrats for a decade. But it’s not just demographics. There is a sense that Republicans are not “inclusive” enough.
Stacy Maillie felt safe voting for Democrats. A nurse and a registered Republican, she voted Democratic after a 12-hour shift in the emergency room.
“I’m not happy with our current state of the Republican Party,” Maillie said after voting at Springfield Township High School. “I think it’s too divisive and I think that the Democratic Party is more tolerant and inclusive. I just find that the current Republican Party has become more extreme.”
Republicans have given up trying to attract minorities to the party, allowing Democrats to define them with minority communities. This is a tragedy given that the GOP has known for 30 years the day was coming when their neglect of engaging in outreach to minorities would cost them dearly.
“Those results are a reflection of what should be a growing concern for the GOP: voters. It’s not enough to turn out your base, at some point you have to grow it, especially given the changing demographics and politics of suburban communities,” said Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a Trump skeptic.“When you have to hold an increasingly larger share of suburban voters because you have no juice in the cities they surround, it becomes more difficult to win races when Democrats are able to increase their share of that vote,” Steele said, pointing to another state that voted on Tuesday: “Can you say Virginia?”